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speaks of the monks of St. Gall: “There I found each more humble and more patient than the other. Nor is there any bitter zeal amongst them, or malice, or envy ; but charity alone reigns there, along with justice. Love, the mother of virtues, and Concord, its daughter, and Simplicity, its attendant, huve there, without doubt, their proper dwelling.”* Adalbero, bishop of Verona, came to St. Gall for the sake of prayer. “The grace of this place,” saith he, "is greater than its fame: here is religion with learning, severity with discipline. What others may think I know not; but I will declare my impressions. I came here seeking one saint, and a dead one ; but, sooth, I found many saints, and living ones.”+
Many of the brief notices of the abbots of Corby in Saxony, given in the annals of that abbey, indicate a happy state of religion as prevailing at that time. Thus, at the date of 876, we reacı, “ Our Adelgarius died, and so our mother was a widow ; Tancmar, a good father, succeeded him. In 880, Avo died, worthy of a longer life ; Bovo, a man circumspect, succeeded him. In 918, Volkmar, who restored the church as well as he could, was a good father of the family, and religious abbot, beloved by all, but whom God reserved for horrible times, on account of public evils; therefore, to prayers and tears, his strongest arms, he exhorted us seriously.”+
Turning to France, the only difficulty is to choose between testimonies of equal force, in proof of the sanctity which existed in her religious houses. Fifty-nine abbots had governed the abbey of Clairmarais, from 1140 to 1790, to whom we have this testimony : “ Their conduct was exemplary in the interior of the cloister, worthy and honorable towards other monasteries, towards the bishops of the diocese, towards the seigneurs of the country, and, we need not adı), towards the people.”'S Guibert, abbot of Gemblour, says of the monks of St. Martin at Tours, in bis letter to Philip, archbishop of Cologne, "Nothing is there un lisciplined, nothing inordinate; all things are quiet, consonant; nothing being under, nothing over done; but all things, by disposition of wisdom, are, in measure, weight, and number, as far as is possible to human infirmity, so that they seem menibers of that Church cohering to itself, solicitous to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; the whole body compact is connected, and every juncture cemented, and
every disturbance appeased : there dwells the wolf with the lanıb, the leopard with the kid, and a child can lead them ; that Child, I mean, of whom it is written, Puer nates est nobis ;' and in that holy house of God, whose place is made in peace, they dwell concordant and unanimous.”'l Lupus, abbot of Ferrors, in his letter to the monks of St. Germain at Auxerre, says, “ True charity, indeel, always flourishes in the inhabitants of our monasteries, but never has it declared its greatness by so many certain proofs as in our time.”I Cluny obtained this well-deserved praise from St. Gregory VII. at the general council : “That, through the grace of God, under holy and pious abbots, it had attained to such
Ap. Heumann, De Re Diplom. ii. 187. + Eckehard de Casibus S. Galli, c. 1. ap. Goldast. i. † Ap. Leibnitz, Script. Bruus. iii. & Piers. Hist. des Abbayes de Watien, et de Clairm. 165. | Ap. Martene, Vet. Script, i. Præf.
dignity and religious strictness, that, in the service of God and spiritual fervor, it surpassed all other communities, ancient and modern; and that no abbey in all the world was to be compared to it : for there had been no abbot there who was not a saint.” Of Cîteaux, Pope Eugene III., in 1152, said that it flourished in the fame of sacred religion. The third abbot of this house was Stephen Harding, of a noble English family, "decoratedwith the grace of eminent sanctity, a lover of the desert, and a most fervent emulator of hoiy poverty,” as he is styled in the book of the origins of Cisteaux. In the archives it is said of him :
Anglicus hic Stephanus fulsit velut Angelus unus
The three daughters of Cisteaux,—the abbey of La Ferté, that of Pontigny, and Clairvaux,—were all true sources of spiritual life. Peter de Roya, who sty les himself, “by the mercy of God, a novice at Clairvaux," writes as follows to the superior of another house : “ It was not strange that I should become thoughtful and solicitous, when I reflected on the manner of my past life, not having lived a moment from my childhood without performing some work of death. Greatly I loved the assemblies of vanity, spectacles, jests, idleness ; to utter falsehood, to swear, to commit perjury, to flatter ; all these, from long daily custom, I learned to consider not sins, but, as it were, certain agreeable ornaments of society and mundane probity. Yet I knew that these same things, causing a separation between God and man, were vanities and lies. I omit greater things, -elation of heart, emulations, hatred, dissensions, detractions :- but the Father of mercies had compassion on me, and at length visited and drew me to his Son. Thus was I saved from the waters of Babylon, and mercifully placed in Clairvaux, at the fountains of the Saviour. For Clairvaux, though situated in a valley, has its foundations on the holy mountains, whose gates the Lord loveth more than the tabernacles of Jacob. Glorious things are told of these, because of them. The glorious and wonderful God worketh glorious and wonderful things : for there the inveterate return to their heart; and, though their exterior man be corrupte yet the interior is restored to life, and renewed from day to day in Him who created man. There the proud are humbled, the rich impoverished, the poor evangelized, and the darkne:s of sins transmitted into light. In this house, therefore, though the multitude gathered together from the ends of the earth is immense, congregated from all regions and nations, yet is there only one heart and one mind; so that of this house we niay truly say, ' Ecce alienigenæ, et Tyrus, et populus Æthiopum, hi fuerunt illic.' This is the habitation of all these, rejoicing not with vain joy. But as for me, the more diligently I examine these poor of blessed life, the more thoroughly am I convinced that they follow Christ in all things, and that they are true ministers of God. For, while at prayer, speaking to God in spirit and in truth, and while I have conversed privately with them in a familiar manner, and when I have remarked their humble manner of conduct
ing themselves, it is plainly evident that they are the familiar friends of God. While praising him in the choral psalmody, the whole state of their body, in all the fear and reverence of sanctity, shows how pure and how fervent is the affection of their mind. Their solenın enunciation, and morose distinction, in modulating the Psalms, shows how sweet in their mouths are the words of God. When I observe them in the diurnal hours, and in the nocturnal vigils before midnight, till prime, with only a short interval between, so holily and indefatigably singing, they seem to me indeed little less than the angels, but much more than men. Such continued alacrity, and such endurance, with such fervor and merit, can only be from a divine gift. Whilst reading they seem lightly to draw the waters of Siloe, with silence flowing and gushing up to eternal life. Their disposition and habit demonstrate that they are all disciples of one Master, teaching in their hearts, and saying, 'Audi Israel et tacent.' They are silent; and they hear, and they become wiser. If we regard them in the exercise of manual labor, their life will appear no less happy. In all these works, it is evident that they are led by a divine Spirit. With such a patient mind, such a placid and immoveable countevance, with such sweet and holy order, they do all things, that though their labor is great, yet they scarcely seem to move, or to be oppressed in any respect. A: mongst these poor I understand some are bishops, others consuls, others illustrious men of great science of dignity, others youths of great birth and hope ; but now, by the grace of God, all acceptation of persons being eradicated, the higher any one supposed himself in the world, the lower does he make himself in this little flock. Therefore, when I beheld these men in the gardens with their rakes, in the meadlows with their forks, in the fields with their ploughs, in the woods with their hatchets, while considering what they were, I look on their present state, their works, instruments, abject persons, disordered and vile vestments, according to the judgment of the eyes, they seem to me not men, but a foolisha race, a mute, shameful flock, the opprobrium of men, and the outcasts of the people; but a sound and faithful intellect proclaims to me, in the heart, that their life is hidden in Christ. Amongst them I rejoice to see Gaufrid Peronensis, Raynald Morinensis, Waller de Insula, and another, whom I knew once the most inveterate in the old man ; but now, by the grace of God, not even a vestige of that ancient mind remains in them. In the old man, I knew them with an exalted heart, walking with supercilious eyes; but now I see them humbled under the merciful hand of God. In the old man I knew them as whitened sepulchres without, within full of dead men's bones ; but now I behold them as vessels of the Lord, which although they may appear outwardly despicable, yet within are full of celestial
perfumes. When, therefore, this community is seen going out to its accustomed labor and returning regularly and simply one after another, as if a pacific host wearing only the arms of peace, must not the angels of God, seeing them thus move, so newly converted from darkness to Christ, sing through joy and admiration? The excluded demon is confounded and filled with grief, seeing what
I trust he may always see, the resurrection of these,-bringing no moderate destruction on his own kingdom. Again, what think you must be the impression on secing them at table at the appointed times for food! Truly, they evince such modesty, such holiness, that they must appear to every one what they are,-just men and fearing God. Here they receive the spiritual food for which they hunger,--the Word of Life; here they reverently partake of the other gifts of God placed before them, not exquisite delights, but of the labor of their hands, vegetables and grain of the earth. Cyder is their drink. If they cannot have this, they rejoice in simple water. Rarely they use wine. In a word, obedience is the rule of their whole life ; which they so faithfully observe in all things, that there is not a single moment of the day or night which is not offered up to God; so that I firmly believe by every step and movement of their hands they gain remission of sin, or increase of the crown to life eternal. These few things concerning the poor of Clairvaux I send to you, according to my promise. There remain greater things; but to describe them I am not sufficient. All my desire is to be associated in body and spirit with these poor of Christ. God willing, on the Sunday after the Ascension we are to receive the armor of our profession, by the grace and benediction of Jesus Christ; which, by the merits of his Mother, and your prayers, may He grant to us.
Innumerable houses retained the fervor and regularity of monastic life down to the latest times. The abbey of St. Jean-des-Vignes at Soissons, founded in 1076, by Hugues, Seigneur de Château-Thierry, had never wanted reform down to the year 1718, when Dom Martene visited it, and found its discipline so perfect. Bourdoise, that model of the secular clergy, in the reign of Louis XIII., describes in glowing terms the edification which he received from visiting the abbey of Jumiège, & which, down to the Revolution, was a blessing to the country. "On arriving at Corby in Saxony,” says the two Benedictine travellers, “we were received as brothers. The abbot is very humble ; and, only for the honor paid to him, one would never suppose that he was a prince, and had the prerogatives of a sovereign. We were greatly edified by all persons of the community.”S' We found the abbey of Prum retaining great discipline. The prior is esteemed a saint all through the country; and the monks are most devout and mortified. The only charge advanced against the prior, is, that he lives too retired, and that he does not see strangers sufficiently. || On arriving at Treves we descended to the abbey of St. Maximin, where we were received with the utmost cordiality. We can say confidently that God is well served in this house. All the holy practices of religion are admirably observeil. Their chant is majestic, their ceremonial venerable. Although the apartments for guests are magnificent, those of the abbot are simple, and contain only necessaries. During our stay we saw nothing but what was most edifying. I
* St. Bernard. Epist. 441. 8 Id. i. 257,
+ Voyage Lit. 24.
| Id. 273.
# Vie de Bourdoise Liv. iii. 246.
| Id. 285.
If these testimonies are not sufficient, I know not what would satisfy us. We might sum up the evidence in the words of a French historian, and say, —"Iu abbeys, the high ideal of the middle ages was realized."* Beyond this it would not, methinks, be possible to find terms that would convey praise,—of course, subposing them addressed to persons competently instructed.
But now, having been for some time under the holy roof, let us institute an inquiry which this allusion to the apartments for guests may naturally suggest and demand, -Who are the men that come occasionally to visit these sanctuaries of God and peace ?
YANY come to the abbey. Many from each of the various conditions into which is divided the social life of man. They come all at once in multitudes on days of solemn festival. They come one by one, secretly, by stealth, seeking to assuage the intolerable thirst which presses them with some drops from the fountains of paradise, which
they know, or at least suspect, are opened here. Let us hear instances related by the witness who saw them come.
“We inhabit the woods; and the leafy coverings of trees are more familiar to us than the stone walls of houses,” says brother Gislebert, writing to Peter the venerable abbot of Cluny; " yet we are not hermits so solitary as to resemble the sparrow alone on the house-top. Though we have penetrated into this vast forest for the sake of solitude, yet we draw after us such a crowd of men, that we seem to have constructed rather a city than a hermitage ; for to say nothing of that tumultuous multitude which flock here from all the surrounding country, in order to have disputes settled, and discords appeased, and judicial sentences modified, the parts of the east beyond the sea, and the transalpine nations of the west, send such a number of embassailors to us, that it would require more than the care of the greatest king to give an answer to them all.”+ The dignity of this act of making peace was then deemed worth the audience of kings and princes, who often attended on these occasions.
Rodulphus, describing the concourse of people that used to visit the abbey of St. Tron, says, “Such a crowd of persons, nobles, and farmers, and persons of both sexes, used to direct their course to our gates, along the roads, and over the fields, and through the meadows, especially on solemn days, and dwelling in leafy tents and taberpacles of bark, for no houses could contain them, the whole place
+ Biblioth. Cluniacens. 863.